10 Common Challenges Faced by a Special Education Teacher

Special education is very important for children who have learning disabilities. The particular reason for this is that it gives them the opportunity to get quality education in line with their unique needs. Special education makes it possible for every student to get educated, gain a high level of independence, and reach their full potential. However, special education is an extremely challenging and demanding field. Thus, 50% of special education teachers quit their jobs within five years of teaching, while the rest quit in a maximum of ten years. This is because of the tedious nature of the job. There are many challenges that special education teachers might face.

Challenges Faced by a Special Education Teacher

Lack of Appreciation and Recognition

The major reason for a high turnover rate in this profession is that special education teachers are not given the appreciation and recognition that they rightly deserve. However, other teachers are appreciated a lot more, which is very unfair.

NoParental Support

The importance of bridging the gap between home and school is massive. However, special education teachers are very discouraging and demotivating when parents do not actively participate in their children’s education. A positive relationship with parents is extremely important, and when parents don’t answer phone calls or even read the notes that have been assigned to their children to read, the teacher’s job becomes even more draining. Hence the lack of support from parents is a great challenge for special education teachers. Parents who do not value education make this job even harder for teachers. However, a Special Education Master’s in Teaching Degree can help you overcome this challenge by equipping you with the required skills.

ZeroPublic Support

People do not respect and value this profession as much as they should. Verbally attacking teachers and their jobs has now become a common occurrence on social media. Teaching is a job that requires a lot of focus and dedication and is one of the most respectable careers. Special education is even harder and deserves an actual salary with benefits. Special education is of great importance and is an actual form of teaching. Remarks such as “you have the easiest job in the world” and “what do you have to complain about” are major challenges that special education teachers have to go through regularly.


Special education teachers have to deal with a lot of paperwork and meetings on a daily basis. They have little to no time after teaching as they are busy preparing individualized education plans (IEP) for each student that lists the student’s disabilities, goals, accommodations, and testing specifications. Teachers also have to recall and keep track of each of these before every IEP meeting. This process happens for each student, depending on how many students are in one teacher’s caseload. Embracing paperwork is one of the challenges faced by special education teachers.


Special education teachers must coordinate their schedules with multiple teachers, including speech pathologists and occupational and physical therapists. They have to make their timetables in accordance with others. They also have to keep in mind the lunch and recess breaks while doing so. It takes them approximately two entire weeks to consider everything and make a suitable timetable that is convenient for everyone. However, even that timetable is sometimes interrupted by students being added or dismissed from a teacher’s caseload. Hence, setting a suitable timetable is also a great challenge for special education teachers.

Training Colleagues

Along with setting up their own timetable, special education teachers also have to schedule the people under their training and supervision. What makes the job even harder is the difference in opinion of the trainer and the trainee. This is great pressure on these teachers and makes it very hard to feel in charge. Teachers are under a lot of pressure to get the job done right because the trainer is, in the end, held responsible for everything and not the ones under supervision.

Behavior Problems

Behaviors of students is another challenge that special education teachers face. Students with disabilities tend to get frustrated and school. Teachers have a hard time controlling such students. Every student is different, and teachers have to learn a way that makes it easy for them to control and manage everyone simultaneously. What works with one student might not work with another. Hence, this job becomes extremely thankless and tiresome at times.

Data Collection

Data collection is a major part of special education. Validating everything beforehand is very important to ensure it coincides with everything in the students’ IEP, individualized education plan. Keeping track and monitoring data, adjusting instructions, and understanding its implications are of great importance.

Evidence of Student Growth

Teachers are held accountable for a student’s growth. Moreover, it is important that teachers employ the most effective teaching method and that students are learning up to their full potential. However, we also know that assessments are not valid indicators of student growth all the time. Teachers have to learn how to appreciate and recognize students with special needs. They must appreciate even the smallest accomplishments that such students make to keep them motivated. This is another major challenge that special teachers have to face.

Variability of Students’Needs

Each class consists of students who have different needs, learn differently, and understand concepts at different paces. Hence, special education teachers must analyze these factors and provide individualized teaching and differentiated instruction to each student. This becomes very hard for teachers to implement every time they enter the classroom and can be classified as one of the major challenges special education teachers face.

All the challenges listed above are equally difficult and very burdensome at times. Special education teachers have to juggle each of these challenges regularly. Despite all these challenges, looking at the importance of special education teachers still give their level best and invest themselves into their profession for special children to make the best use out of it. Hence, overcoming the job’s challenges and helping students with disabilities reach their full potential makes all the effort worthwhile.

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